It can be easy to think about Girl Scouting as a local activity that girls participate in to learn leadership skills and improve the community around them. In fact, Girl Scouting can be all that AND show girls how they are connected to the global community.
Diane Saber, Global Action Volunteer for GSNI and Lifetime Girl Scout Member, writes about how to incorporate global awareness into Girl Scout programs. Today she focuses on how to get young Girl Scouts to think about travel. The second post in her series will focus on getting involved in destinations.
Before we begin, let's define global awareness. According to Google, global awareness is a conceptual understanding based upon applicable knowledge of global and cultural perspectives. It involves understanding environmental, social, cultural, political, and economic relationships between people. So what is the difference between knowledge and awareness? Knowledge is what we know to be true within our own context and awareness involves a recognition and appreciation of the size, complexity and diversity of the earth as a whole. They are, most of the time, polar opposites! Awareness is knowing that we don't know, but are curious to learn. Others across the globe possess vastly different life experiences which directly influences their perception of the world...and their perception of us!
There are so many ways to infuse global awareness into our Girl Scout programs, but perhaps the easiest to grasp is travel. For most leaders, the thought of traveling with our Girl Scouts conjures up thoughts of overwhelming responsibility and sleepless nights. However, we "travel" with our girls all the time! We "travel" to roller skating events, we "travel" to day camp, we "travel" to the mall for a special outing. Did you realize that another word for "travel" is "Journey"? It just depends on the words we use and our perspective. We are trying to encourage leaders and our Girl Scouts to incorporate the word travel into common Girl Scout activities. In tandem, we can encourage further involvement for girls as young as Brownies, so that they feel they are part of the process and are responsible for the various steps in planning/execution of the trip. For example, have them vote on choices for their "trip" (i.e., the zoo, the park, the mall?), plan the trip (i.e., how much will it cost, when will it be, do we need snacks?) and, most importantly, what will be the learning experience?
Thinking globally, a short discussion about how this activity may be different for girls in different countries or even different parts of the US. Is there an activity which ties global awareness with the planned trip? For instance, a trip to "Build A Bear" may include a matching game of animal to continent/country/US state. Global connections are everywhere! Even the differences between communities within our Council are significant. The message: we do "trips" and "travel" all the time! We like to think this way from early Scouting because it makes planning for trips and travel execution more routine and comfortable for everyone. Simply engage the girls in the planning and begin to think global!
Here is a short but poignant story about a "trip" my Troop, then 9th Grade Seniors, took to Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana. As part of the Sow What Journey, we were investigating sources of food. Our girls were confident they knew about milk and cows but they wanted to learn more. What about the impacts of farming on global warming? What about waste management in large farms? How is our milk supply kept safe, while keeping cows healthy? Our pre-trip planning required that we look for the answers while we planned the trip. Armed with both questions and assumptions, we had wonderful experience learning about dairy farming. We even saw the birth of a calf, which is something these suburban girls have NEVER witnessed. Would this be the case for all girls within our Council? Probably not. Even within our own Council, our knowledge and perspectives are different and there is opportunity for global awareness.
Check back next week, where Diane focuses on how to older Girl Scouts can expand their global awareness and travel with destinations.